With tornado season upon us, parents of Oklahoma schoolchildren worry about when the big one will hit again.
In August, Edmond Schools will finish construction on its first new middle school in 17 years. The 35-million dollar Heartland Middle School will feature a 7,500 square foot practice gym. It will double as a massive “safe room,” capable of holding 1,200 students comfortably during a tornado.
Chief Operations Officer Christina Hoehn said the shelter will be capable of withstanding winds of up to 350 miles per hour. The school will also have a second much smaller shelter, designed to house special needs children. It will be in an area where those students can get to quickly.
“We spent more money in these particular spaces. But we felt for our special needs kids, that would be important,” Hoehn said.
Edmond Schools Public Information Officer Susan Parks-Schlepp said since 1900, every Edmond Public School built has been built with safe rooms. She said right now safe rooms in Edmond Schools are able to house about half the District’s students. But those numbers should improve dramatically over the next decade.
“Currently with the number of students we can shelter, that’s more than any district in the state,” said Parks-Schlepp.